Fans have long awaited the proper third film in the “Ghostbusters” series, and while it’s become very apparent that the original cast is much too old to carry the series further, “Afterlife” is a great step in to a new world. Like most legacy sequels of beloved movie series, “Afterlife” pays great reverence to the original, while also carving out a path for a new direction and brand new cast of ghost fighting heroes. While “Afterlife” is very light in laughs and levity, it stills comes out in the end as a fantastic follow up that clicks right in to the first two films beautifully.
Thirty-seven years after the “Manhattan Crossrip of ’84“, Callie, Egon’s estranged daughter, and her two children, Trevor and Phoebe, are evicted from their home and forced to move into Egon’s farm in Summerville, Oklahoma. While the brother and sister struggle to fit in, the science adept Phoebe begins digging in to her grandfather’s belongings. Along with her new friend Podcast, they begin to uncover the source of the mysterious earthquakes plaguing their new town. Much to Phoebe’s horror, they learn that an old nemesis of the Ghostbusters is dead set on being resurrected. Now armed with Egon’s old technology, the new generation of Ghostbusters must do battle with the extraordinary monsters.
With “Afterlife,” director Jason Reitman pays great respect and homage to the original “Ghostbusters” offering up fun fan service, while cleverly aiming to win over a new fan base. When all is said and done “Afterlife” the movie belongs to McKenna Grace, a capable and exceptional actress who brings so much to the film. As Phoebe, she’s engaging, likable, charming, and posits herself as a great role model for younger audiences to root for. She’s pretty much the female Egon Spangler, a young girl obsessed with science and soaked in her own sense of curiosity about the world. Her journey of exploring the mystery of the town’s supernatural occurrences transforms in to a unique coming of age story about family, legacy, and understanding.
The latter is the most consistent theme as Reitman explores trying to understand the difficult position our parents can often be put in during times of great stress. Not to mention the sense of coming to terms with idea of sacrifice and how our role models can be and always will be imperfect. The respective supporting cast holds up the film excellently with Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, and Carrie Coon offering heartfelt and lively performances. Newcomers Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor are also great in their roles as Podcast, and Lucky (if there is a sequel, I hope we can see more of them!). I wish we’d seen so many more spooky ghouls and ghosts be unearthed allowing the characters to do some battle. I also would have loved a brand new villain to pose a threat to the new gen of Ghostbusters.
Director Jason Reitman is put in to a rough position where he has to appease old fans and appeal to new; and for the most part, “Afterlife” is a success. Even with its narrative flaws “Afterlife” is a stunning, wonderful sequel, and the third chapter that fans (and Harold Ramis) deserved.